How to Make a
Macro (Miniature) Photography Light Box and Other Tips
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Required tools and
- X-acto knife and fresh
- Metal straight-edge
ruler to use to cut against
- Cutting mat
- Sheet of mat
board (I like a warm gray for background since
it matches most anything)
- Sheet of plastic
- Fast-grab, quick-dry
white craft glue that dries clear
- Opaque wide
- Old white sheet
or similar fabric (ironed with no wrinkles)
- Artist's paint brush to
- 2 high-watt spot
lights (see in text below)
I am not a professional photographer by any
stretch of the imagination, but--like most of you--I
learn a little about what I need, add a little "duct
tape" so to speak and fake it really well. For example, I needed
to improve the photographs of my
miniatures...I especially wanted to capture all the
smallest details of my new line. I did a little
internet research and found out about light boxes
-- boy are they expensive!! Then I went and designed a "quicky" light box for my own
purposes. As it turned out, this box has been very
effective, and I thought you might like to see it
since most of you need to take a photo or two on
occasion of your own works.
1. What I used for the box
was a large piece of mat board (see photo). If
I were to do this again, I would use that corrugated
plastic board that you can get at the craft store.
That would hold it's shape better, but takes a
little more muscle to cut than the mat board.
2. The finished box size is 12" (inches)
cubed. Cut 5 pieces of the corrugated board to 12"x12"
squares. The left, right and top panels
(3 out of 5 panels) have windows cut that leave a 2"
boarder on all four sides.
3. I glued the ironed white bed sheet
fabric in the windows as light
diffusers. You can start by gluing the bottom edge
down and allow it to dry. Stretch the top edge and
glue it down. Use a strip of tape to hold it in
place while the glue is drying, then remove the tape
after the bond is dry. Glue the left and right sides
down. Don't let light seep through any unglued
4. Use the opaque wide
packing tape and "tape-hinge" the bottom panel and back
panels together. That means that they should be at a
90 degree right-angle when you are done. Make sure
that taping is done on the exterior of the box.
5. Repeat the tape-hinge
step to tape the top
panel to the back panel.
6. Fit the sides into
place and tape tightly. You will probably need to
shave a little of an edge here and there to get it to fit
well. You don't want light to seep through the seams
because they will make unwanted shadows and light
7. Notice in my photo that
the background is curved. That is a piece of mat
board wedged into the cube. I am able to use any
color background with removable panels--and there is
no seam in the photograph background since the panel is curved. The panel is 20"
long by 11.75" wide. To keep it from slipping out
the front, I glued two 1" wide by about 10"
long strips of mat board
together (stacked on top of each other). Then glued
the stack to the floor of the entrance flush against
floor edge. I can pop out the background and replace
it with another color panel
whenever I like.
8. For lighting, I went to
my local hardware store (Home Depot in my
case) and purchased two 500 watt halogen work-lights
for about $20 (see photo).
leave these lights on when unattended! They are
extremely hot and will cause a fire if close to the
9. I still use my flash on
the camera. Of course you will need to practice with
different settings on your particular camera and for
what you are photographing, but
some of my digital settings may help you. Here they
Close-up setting (mine's a little tulip)
64 (on my camera)
Super Zoom ON
and 1/1000 (highest settings)
ASA on regular film should be a high
sensitivity, i.e., 400 ASA
with your white balance if there is a setting on